The Universe is way bigger than anybody could ever imagine. Scientists once thought that matter, time, and space are the primordial and only components of our reality. But it turns out that it’s not actually the case. The discovery of dark matter baffled the minds of scientists, and it still does since nobody knows what exactly is it. We do know that it’s way more largely spread than the classic matter.
The Cosmic Axion Spin Precession Experiment provides some explanations
Prof Dmitry Budker led a team of scientists eager to understand dark matter. During the CASPEr experiment (or Cosmic Axion Spin Precession) they used nuclear magnetic resonance techniques to identify and analyze the dark matter.
For the moment, there are very few candidates that could be considered elements of dark matter. For instance, there are the axions (very light bosonic particles), and dark photons. Budker explains to us:
“These can also be regarded as a classical field oscillating at a certain frequency. But we can’t yet put a figure on this frequency – and therefore the mass of the particles,”
“That is why in the CASPEr research program we are systematically investigating different frequency ranges looking for hints of dark matter.”
The CASPEr team is developing nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) techniques, each seeking a specific frequency range. Therefore, a specific range of dark-matter particle masses is targetted by the new techniques. What the researchers are mainly hoping for, is that a dark matter field can influence the nuclear spins in the same way.
Unfortunately, there was no sign of dark matter being detected, as the CASPEr team reports in the latest edition of Science Advances. Thus, the authors ruled out ultralight dark matter with couplings above a particular threshold. However, the good news is that these results provide another piece of the puzzle regarding the understanding of dark matter.
“Like a jigsaw puzzle, we combine various pieces within the CASPEr program to further narrow down the scope of the dark matter search,” says Dmitry Budker.
John Blanchard adds: “This is just the first step. We are currently implementing several very promising modifications to increase our experiment’s sensitivity.”
Understanding what dark matter is, how it works, and where it came from is one of the biggest challenges in today’s’ science. The research has been done at PRISMA+ Cluster of Excellence at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Helmholtz Institute Mainz (HIM).